Joshua Buatsi prevails in a grueling duel against home rival Craig Richards

Buatsi continued his fight for the world title by pointing out domestic rival Richards at the O2 Arena to maintain his unbeaten record

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Joshua Buatsi has outstripped hometown rival Craig Richards in a grueling encounter to continue his unbeaten run to the world title.

‘JB’ returned to the ring for the first time since defeating Richard Bolotniks last August, with a win for the rising star likely setting a world title against WBA Champion Dmitry Bivol. Richards defeated Marek Matyja late last year to return to winning ways late after coming up short in his own title shot against Bivol.

However, it was Buatsi who had his hand raised after a grueling encounter as the South Londoner handed the unanimous decision win to take a crucial step close to a title shot. The 29-year-old was delighted with his performance and claimed an instant shot at world fame.

Joshua Buatsi defeated Craig Richards in London


action pics via Reuters)

“We want the world title. We made it very clear. We are ready,” said Buatsi after the fight. When you’re there, believe in yourself,” he said. “This guy lives next to me. He gave me 12 hard rounds. Greatest respect to him.

“It couldn’t have been a great fight without Spider. It takes two to make it and he did it. He pushed me every round. I knew it was a close fight but I’d say I did Spider more injured. You could argue for both.”

Buatsi started the fight on the climb when he landed some crisp combinations in the quick early stages. Both men landed significant work with a well-timed overhand right that stiffened Richards’ legs before firing back with an uppercut of his own.

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The favorite looked strong in rounds four and five, with Richards working more dominantly, waiting for signs that the storm was about to die down. Buatsi received a significant scare in race eight when he was dazed by heavy artillery from Richards, who was pushing for a finish in vain.

Buatsi recovered well and scored some damaging work himself in tenth before the pair blazed all guns in an electric final lap. The judges saw Buatsi’s controlled display give him the advantage 116-112, with two scoring 115-113 in his favor.

Following his win, Buatsi now finds himself in pole position to chase a title shot against Bivol, who just defeated Canelo Alvarez earlier this month. Richards was defiant and respectful after the final bell with a regrouping needed after a close third career loss.

Also on the map Alen Babic defeated Adam Balski in a thriller earlier on the map, despite being dropped after just a few seconds in the first verse. Chantelle Cameron successfully defended her unified titles with a wide decision victory over Victoria Bustos to continue her path to an undisputed title shot.

John Hedges and Cyrus Pattinson both posted stoppage wins on the card to continue their respective careers unbeaten, while Cheavon Clarke also caught the eye in his second fight.

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